High School Volleyball

BACK TO STATE

Batenhorst, Seven Lakes upend Katy High in all-Katy ISD Region III final

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 12/4/20

Seven Lakes senior outside hitter Ally Batenhorst competed in the state volleyball tournament as a freshman alongside her older sister Dani, was a senior hitter at the time.

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High School Volleyball

BACK TO STATE

Batenhorst, Seven Lakes upend Katy High in all-Katy ISD Region III final

Posted

Seven Lakes senior outside hitter Ally Batenhorst competed in the state volleyball tournament as a freshman alongside her older sister Dani, was a senior hitter at the time.

Batenhorst wasn’t about to miss out on an opportunity at state with her younger sister, junior setter Casey.

The Under Armour All-American and Nebraska signee had 28 kills to lead Seven Lakes to a 3-1 win (22-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-17) over District 19-6A rival Katy in the Class 6A Region III final on Friday evening at the Merrell Center. The Spartans (23-1) return to state for the first time since 2017, when they fell in the final to Lewisville Hebron.

“We’ve talked for so long about doing this, even since the end of last season after what happened,” said Casey, referring to the Spartans’ ouster in the area round of the playoffs against Cy-Fair. “I just knew this was going to be our season. Ally’s gotten so much better and is so amazing. With her leadership, I knew we could get here, and I thought it’d be really cool if she could go to state with both sisters.”

Seven Lakes plays San Antonio Reagan (22-3) in the Class 6A state semifinals Monday, Dec. 7, at 5 p.m. at the Merrell Center.

“It feels like a happy ending to a rollercoaster of a novel,” Seven Lakes coach Amy Cataline said. “This team has been through it. Having two shutdowns with COVID-19 and injuries, this is the happy ending we’ve been praying for. All the months of training … it makes it all worth it.”

It was the first time two Katy ISD programs had played in a volleyball regional final. The Spartans stole the show, but not before Katy gave an early scare.

The Tigers were dominant that first set in taking a 1-0 lead in the match, as seniors Perris Key and Abby Sherman had four kills apiece.

Errors plagued Seven Lakes, which had 10, and Katy took advantage.

“We got in our heads a little bit in the first set, and once we got that momentum and energy, we got things going,” Ally Batenhorst said. “We talked about it and encouraged each other. We had great passion to get the job done.”

The Spartans eventually straightened up.

Batenhorst had eight kills in the second set and junior Emma Schroder had three kills and a block as Seven Lakes tied the match, 1-1. Casey Batenhorst was critical in the third with three kills and an ace. In the fourth set, Batenhorst had six kills, including the clinching point, and junior Mayo Olibale had three kills and a block.

“It’s the most amazing feeling in the world right now,” Olibale said. “I feel like we worked so hard for it during the offseason. It’s paying off.”

The game was another showcase for Batenhorst, who added 18 digs and two blocks. Her only goal this season was to get back to state. Tears flowed down her face after the game as she embraced Casey, her teammates and then Cataline.

“It’s unreal,” Batenhorst said. “It’s incredible. I knew we could do it, and it’s insane I get to do it twice. If we keep working hard, I think we could really do well. I’m so proud of my team. We came so far and overcame so much.”

Though they lost, the Tigers had an outstanding season. They finished 19-4 overall and made the regional final for the first time since 1993.

Key led Katy with 12 kills. Junior Jordan Gamble had 10 kills and three blocks. Sherman added eight kills.

“To have that kind of season in what started out to be so much uncertainty and adversity … to finish tied for fifth is pretty amazing,” Katy coach Karen Paxton said.

The Tigers graduate just seven seniors, including Key, Sherman and libero Hannah Hoover. Gamble and junior setter Maddie Waak return, as well as hustling junior defensive specialist Izzy Denton.

“Everything we asked, they did. No questions. They did it as a team,” Paxton said. “They’re just so appreciative for every point and every practice. Every opportunity they got to do something as a group, they loved it and appreciated it and that was really special.”

A special season coming up short against a special team. Seven Lakes players and coaches are confident they can make up for the lost opportunity three years ago.

Plus, Cataline also has Batenhorst at her disposal, a star player who is also the team’s hardest worker and the voice behind the Spartans’ charge.

“She has been the leader of this team,” Cataline said. “She’s been there before and knows what it takes. She’s telling the girls and also living it out. Her focus, her drive, her resilience, her poise … everyone’s following, and they want it just as bad.

“I’m overjoyed with her leadership. She’s a clutch player and playing with so much heart.”

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